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Recolonization process and fish assemblage dynamics in the Guadiamar river (SW Spain) after the Aznalcóllar mine toxic spill

AuthorsMiguel, R. J. de; Gálvez Bravo, Lucía ; Oliva-Paterna, F. J.; Cayuela, Luis; Fernández-Delgado, C.
Mediterranean freshwater fish
Mining accident
Long-term threats
Issue Date2016
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationRiver Research and Applications 32(6): 1196-1206 (2016)
AbstractThe Guadiamar River (SW Iberian Peninsula) received a major toxic spill (6 hm) from a tailing pond in 1998 that defaunated 67 km of the main stem. Following early mud removal works, the fish assemblage was annually monitored at four affected sampling sites and one located in the upstream non-affected reach of the Guadiamar River as reference. Fish abundance and assemblage structure were analysed. Principal response curve was applied to assess the recovery trends and to identify the most influential species. A non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination and permutational multivariate analysis of variance were applied to evaluate changes in fish assemblage structure between sites and years. Overall, the affected reaches harboured fish within 2 years of the spill. Colonists arrived mainly from the upstream and downstream non-affected Guadiamar River reaches and, to a lesser extent, from three lateral tributaries. It is likely that the proximity, connectivity and environmental conditions of non-affected fish sources greatly influenced the recolonization process in each site. The structure of the fish community in the affected sites was initially similar to that in the unaffected reference stretch but changed dramatically with time, and each site followed its own trajectory. Currently, long-term threats such as mining leachates, urban sewage, agricultural pollution and exotic fish species expansion have probably exceeded the initial spill effect. This highlights the large effect of anthropogenic factors on freshwater ecosystem resilience, and the need to significantly reduce both pollution and exotic species if the affected reach of the Guadiamar River is to recover fully.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1002/rra.2944
e-issn: 1535-1467
issn: 1535-1459
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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